What were you doing 30 years ago?

Do you want to feel truly old?

Wait until the day when you can say it’s been 30 years since you graduated from college. That is just a crazy statement, and I can hardly believe it’s true – but it is.

This May marks 30 years since I graduated from my alma mater, SUNY Binghamton (since rebranded simply as the ever-so-classy Binghamton University).

My college years spanned the late 80s and early 90s. Back then, we wrote our papers on typewriters and no one had computers or mobile phones yet. I got a fancy word processor device my sophomore year, but it was basically a glorified typewriter with only a very small memory. I didn’t get my first cell phone until well after I graduated.

Other than taking place a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, college wasn’t a super big deal for me. Unlike many people I know, and contrary to how it’s portrayed in most Hollywood movies, I would not say my college days were the best times of my life.

My Binghamton years weren’t a bad time – it just wasn’t the be-all and end-all that some people seem to experience in college. I honestly couldn’t wait to graduate, get out into the real world and start my real life.

I loved living in the dorms for my first two years and did make some good friendships there. I liked living off-campus for my second two years and it was a great overall life experience, although a bit more isolating and lonely.

Personally, I never had a super close-knit group of friends in college. I made friends, sure, but it was just a handful at best and none of us did a very good job of staying in touch afterward.

As far as really close friends go, I mainly stayed in touch with my besties from HS – and we made sure to visit each other’s schools during our college years for awesome weekends together. A few of us are still in touch to this day.

I felt very different from my peers in those days and that kept me apart from a lot of potential friends. Let’s be clear: I went away to college as a newly born-again Christian. That will damper anyone’s fun! I didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t believe in partying and basically kept a low profile, socially.

Oh, sure there were some fun moments – like the all-dorm mooning competition that our entire freshman dorm participated in with a neighboring dorm.

There were also plenty of late night outings to the student union for cookies and other memorable moments with roommates, floor-mates and housemates. But I didn’t make or keep many true “best friends” during my four years away at school.

I also didn’t partake in any substances, which seems to be a big part of most people’s fun times in college.

Looking back, the main reason for my lack of a social life back then is that I was way too boyfriend-centric. I typically spent most of my time with, or mooning about, whichever particular guy I was coupled-up with. I wasn’t free to meet new people or deepen friendships as much as I could or should have.

This is actually one of my few regrets about my younger days: I was always way too wrapped up in a relationship and I chronically went right from one serious boyfriend to the next in an extremely quick, serialized way.

Life hack time: Don’t be boyfriend-obsessed, teens and young peeps. Be free to make friends, be single, have fun, discover interests and truly discover who YOU are.

Bottom line, part of the reason I was always coupled-up was that I felt insecure and hated being alone.

Here’s a perfect example: if I ever missed the chance to go down to the dining hall with my boyfriend, roommate or friends on my floor, I would literally skip going at all and survive on whatever I had in my room (hello, Pop-Tarts and pizza delivery).

I cringe thinking back to how insecure I was and how uncomfortable I felt in my own skin. I never could have gone to a restaurant or movie alone – things I now adore doing.

In hindsight, I honestly think that my deep-dive into evangelical Christianity during my senior year of high school left me feeling shameful and insecure. I don’t think it was a particularly healthy headspace. I felt guilty about my relationships with guys, yet too insecure to give them up.

During the second half of my college experience, I took courses in feminism and world religions that blew my mind open and expanded my thinking. Gradually, the “born again” thing subsided and I began to develop a truer sense of self.

In fact, if there’s one thing I am super grateful for during my college years, it’s that early education in feminism, philosophy, world religions and African American studies that set me on a path for a “woke” life and gave me a heart for social justice.

In general, I do feel that I received a good overall education at Binghamton. Even beyond academics, there were plenty of opportunities to learn about cultures and ways of thinking that were different from what I had always known.

In addition, the PR internship I stumbled into my junior year was a first baby step forward into an exciting and rewarding career in public relations.

And although I spent way too much of my college experience obsessed with boyfriends, I had a few relationships that were pretty special and taught me a lot. Especially about Judaism! I’ll save those details for another blog post.

When you look back on your college years, what are your reflections? Did your education make a meaningful difference in your ultimate career, did you learn valuable life lessons and did you make friendships to last a lifetime?

I’d love to hear your ruminations on your collegiate days in the comments below or over on Facebook.

And to my one dear college friend who actually reads this blog, I am super thankful to be back in touch with you after all this time. You are truly the best friendship to come out of those Binghamton days!

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Natural born writer. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.
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